There is growing recognition that even the most comprehensive equality laws are often not effective in practice. Between 2021 and 2023, we undertook comparative research to assess the effectiveness of equality laws in the area of work and employment. We spoke with more than 100 experts, who confirmed that lack of awareness, confidence and resources prevent victims from seeking justice, while ineffective procedures and inadequate sanctions undermine enforcement. Even where remedy and sanction are secured, outcomes are individual and reactive, rather than collective, proactive and preventative. This has the further effect of undermining confidence in the system and compliance with the law, creating a vicious cycle.
There is a need for improved evidence and understanding on how to make equality laws effective in providing justice, remedy and sanction, and on the mechanisms, tools and processes required to move from remedy and sanction towards a proactive, preventive model of equality law.
How will we achieve our objective?
We will launch two new collaborative research initiatives, share the findings and support the implementation of the resulting recommendations:
- The Remedy project: We will establish a global network of research partners to undertake global, comparative, empirical research on access to justice, enforcement and remedy in equality laws. We will examine every aspect of the system – procedures and institutions, measures to ensure effective access to justice, approaches to evidence, models of sanction and remedy – in order to evidence common problems, understand “what works” and identify good practices.
- The Prevent project: We will bring together expert thinkers to engage in an “ideation” process, focused on examining how equality law can be adapted and developed to become more effective in proactively preventing and eliminating discrimination and advancing equality.
What will be the outcome?
Ultimately, we aim to increase the number of states whose equality laws are effectively implemented.
We will do this through addressing the gap in knowledge and understanding of what works in remedying and preventing discrimination and then promoting and supporting action to improve implementation. We will ensure that equality activists and movements have (1) the robust, global evidence base on enforcement, justice and remedy in equality laws, and the clear guidance which they need to engage effectively with enforcement institutions; and (2) the guiding principles on the proactive and preventative elements of equality law which they need to engage with legislators and policy-makers.